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Ameren Illinois Utilities Urge Customers to be Prepared for Forecasted Winter Storm

PEORIA, Ill., March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- With the snow, ice and sleet accumulations forecasted for much of Illinois tonight and tomorrow, the Ameren Illinois Utilities are advising customers to ready themselves for the possibility of power outages.

"Safety is our first and foremost concern when severe storms strike," said Bill Prebil, vice president of Regional Operations for the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP).

"The most important safety rule is to stay clear of downed power lines and always call your Ameren Illinois Utility or '911' if you see downed lines. Assume all downed power lines are energized. Stay inside, especially at night because you may walk into an energized power line. Stay clear of brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines," Prebil said.

The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.

  Here are some tips on dealing with winter storms:
  -- Because most major outages are caused by bad weather, start by
     developing shelter plans for severe storm conditions.
  -- If any member of your family has a medical condition, plan and make
     arrangements to have that person's special needs met in the event
     electricity is not available for an extended period of time during a
  -- Assemble a "storm kit" and store it in a secure, centrally located part
     of your house. Make sure all family members know where to find that
     kit. It should contain:
     - Emergency telephone numbers; flashlights and fresh batteries (avoid
       using candles, lanterns or oil lamps due to the fire risk); extra
       garage and house keys; a battery-powered radio; a battery-powered or
       wind-up alarm clock; a supply of bottled water (one gallon per person
       per day); non-perishable foods that don't require heating; blankets,
       bedding or sleeping bags; a first-aid kit and medications; a
       hand-operated can opener; special items for infants or family members
       with special needs; hand tools, such as a screwdriver, scissors and
       duct tape; household items like  plastic utensils, paper plates,
       waterproof matches and household bleach; identification and copies of
       important family documents.
  -- If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect
     sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge
  -- When severe weather is predicted, make certain your cell phone is fully
     charged. Also, remember that cordless landline telephones will not
     function in the event of a power outage.
  -- If your power goes out, check first with a neighbor to see if you are
     the only one without power. If you are the only one without service,
     check your electrical panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown
     fuse. If any breakers are in the "off" position or if a fuse is blown,
     you should investigate the problem. If you are still without power, or
     if others in your neighborhood are experiencing a power outage, call
     your Ameren Illinois utility at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a
     week -- and always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or
     natural gas odor! The Ameren Illinois Utility numbers are
     1-888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 1-888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and
     1-800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).

A full description of the Ameren Illinois Utilities' restoration process and tips on how customers can prepare for service disruptions is available on the Ameren Web site at http://www.ameren.com/ (select "Outage Information" from the left-hand menu, select Ameren Illinois Outage Information and then select "Ameren's Storm Response" from the left-hand menu). Customers can learn more about power outage situations by visiting selecting "Outage Information" and then such menu options as the "Outage Map" and "My Electric Outage."

The Ameren Illinois Utilities' serve 1.2 million electric and more than 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

CONTACT: Leigh Morris of Ameren, +1-217-535-5228

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/